State v. Graham

Citation441 A.2d 857,186 Conn. 437
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Decision Date09 March 1982
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Roger GRAHAM.

Richard T. Meehan, Jr., Bridgeport, for appellant (defendant).

Jonathan C. Benedict, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, was Donald A. Browne, State's Atty., for appellee (state).


PARKSEY, Associate Justice.

In a two count information the defendant was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to sell in violation of General Statutes §§ 19-480(a) and 19-480(b), respectively. After a trial to the jury, the defendant was convicted of both counts and sentenced to a term of four to ten years on the first count and to a concurrent sentence of one year on the second count. The defendant has appealed from both convictions.

The jury could have found the following facts: On June 21, 1979, members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force and the Norwalk police department executed a warrant directing the search of the person of the defendant and premises known as 23 Keeler Avenue, Norwalk. The actual execution of the warrant commenced at about 7 p. m. with a search-team surveillance from the intersection of Keeler Avenue with the 150 to 200 foot long driveway that led to the designated premises. The surveillance was terminated when the defendant exited the house and drove a blue pickup truck to a point between the end of and ten feet into the driveway, at which point the defendant was ordered to stop and exit the vehicle. He was then arrested, advised of his constitutional rights, patted down for weapons and searched pursuant to the warrant. At this point the defendant displayed no signs of being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Upon being asked if he understood his rights, the defendant responded "Yes."

While the defendant was being attended to by other officers, Patrolman Ronald Thompson, having earlier been informed that the defendant carried a gun and was the type to use one, searched under the driver's seat for a gun but found nothing.

The defendant was next handcuffed and placed in the rear seat of a patrol vehicle operated by Officer Salvatore Chappa of the Norwalk police department. Chappa, who knew the defendant from junior high school days, remained with the defendant for a minute or so, went into the house for five to ten minutes and then returned to Graham with whom he remained in the vehicle for forty-five minutes before proceeding back to police headquarters. After having been back in the car for ten to fifteen minutes, Chappa overheard Graham being given his so-called Miranda warnings. Thereafter Chappa made an overture to the defendant about cooperating by giving the name of his supplier. The defendant's response was to the effect that he didn't want to talk; as far as giving information where Chappa could help him; or "about it"; or about "this affair."

Thereafter, during the remainder of their stay in the driveway at 23 Keeler Avenue, the defendant and Chappa engaged in a continuing general conversation in which the defendant spoke as much as Chappa. The conversation covered such varied topics as the defendant's occupation as a carpenter and Chappa's former job in construction and their children sharing the same birthdates. During the course of this conversation Chappa offered to do what he could to help Graham. Finally, Chappa made a statement to the effect "Roger, it's too bad that this had to happen. It's a shame. You have a beautiful wife and a beautiful child." The defendant's response was that he was thinking of giving up selling the "stuff" and changing his lifestyle. At no time did the defendant request the services of an attorney.

When the defendant was stopped at the Keeler Avenue end of the driveway, his truck was in a position blocking any further vehicular access to the house which was located about 200 feet back. The driveway being too narrow for a turn-around, Trooper Anthony Dalessio backed the truck up to the house to a point where it no longer interfered with the search. He then removed the keys from the ignition and proceeded to the house, keeping the keys in the hope of avoiding the necessity of a forced entry, it being unknown to him that entry had already been made. After entering the house Dalessio eventually arrived at the den where a locked metal box had been located. To avoid damaging the box, the key ring from the truck was examined and a key was found that unlocked the box. Inside the box was approximately one half of the cocaine that was introduced into evidence at the trial. The key, box and contents were seized as evidence.

In his appeal the defendant assigns error in the trial court's admitting into evidence his oral statement to Chappa, the key to the strong box and hearsay testimony pertaining to the defendant's character. Although the resolution of the first assignment is dispositive of this appeal, because the other issues are likely to arise on a new trial, we shall also discuss the remaining assignments.


Before addressing the issue of custodial interrogation it behooves us to clear away the underlying brushwood. Whatever the positions taken at the trial, the defendant concedes that the incriminating statement attributed to him by Chappa was made in the patrol car at the search scene and that at that time he had not requested an attorney. The state concedes that the statement was made while the defendant was in custody and after he had been given the so-called Miranda warnings. The dispute concerns the character of the ensuing conversation between the defendant and Chappa. The defendant claims that what took place constituted a custodial interrogation in violation of the defendant's fifth and fourteenth amendment rights as spelled out in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). On the other hand the state asserts that what occurred was a conversation between old acquaintances and that the incriminating statement which ultimately eventuated was unanticipated and fortuitous. We disagree. The state does not claim that the defendant either explicitly or implicitly waived his Miranda rights. See State v. Wilson, --- Conn. ---, ---, 439 A.2d 330 (42 Conn.L.J., No. 37, pp. 1, 3) (1981). We shall, therefore, limit our present discussion to the interrogation issue. Furthermore, because it is undisputed that Miranda warnings were given in this case, our focus is further limited to the post warning interchange. Although the state attempts to characterize the defendant's response to Chappa's overture for information as ambiguous and as an expression of an unwillingness merely to talk about the source of his drug supply, a fair reading of the response would lead any detached observer to the reasonable conclusion that the defendant had invoked his constitutional right to remain silent.

Miranda has established the prophylactic procedural safeguards which are to accompany the giving of the prescribed warnings: "Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. At this point he has shown that he intends to exercise his Fifth Amendment privilege; any statement taken after the person invokes his privilege cannot be other than the product of compulsion, subtle or otherwise. Without the right to cut off questioning, the setting of in-custody interrogation operates on the individual to overcome free choice in producing a statement after the privilege has been invoked." Miranda v. Arizona, supra, 473-74, 86 S.Ct. at 1627.

The claimed interrogation took place at the search scene while Graham was seated in Chappa's patrol car. Before Chappa started talking to Graham, another police officer had attempted to question him but Graham indicated that he didn't want to talk. Chappa revealed to his superiors in the house being searched that he knew Graham from school days and either Chappa's superiors or Chappa himself suggested that he should try to get Graham to cooperate. Chappa then went out to the car and spoke with Graham for forty-five minutes, according to Chappa and an hour and a half to two hours, according to Graham. At the outset of the conversation Chappa tried to talk Graham into cooperating with the agents, offering to try to help him out if he did, but Graham responded that he didn't want to talk about it. Chappa, in substance, told Graham, "Look, tell me something and I'll go back in there and see if I can help you out with these guys." After Graham declined to talk, Chappa continued the inquiry although he couldn't recall asking Graham any further questions about narcotics or drugs during the conversation. The conversation also covered such topics as family and occupations of mutual interest. Finally Chappa remarked, "Roger, it's too bad that this had to happen. It's a shame. You have a beautiful wife and a beautiful child." Graham responded that he was thinking of giving up selling the "stuff" and changing his life style.

Certain conclusions may be drawn from the recitation of the Chappa inquiry. Not only was Graham's right to cut off questioning not scrupulously honored, it was not honored at all. Miranda inhibits not only police encounters of the third degree kind, it also precludes all types of questioning and psychological ploys, calculated or reasonably likely to produce the desired result. Interrogation extends to any words or actions on the part of police officers that they should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301-302, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1689-1690, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980). If we apply that test, the Chappa inquiry amounted to constitutionally impermissible interrogation.


The key to the strong box was properly admitted under...

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21 cases
  • State v. Doehrer
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 29 Julio 1986
    ...... The term encompasses not only express questioning, but also "any words or actions on the part of the police .. that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect." Id., 301, 100 S.Ct. at 1689; see State v. Graham, 186 Conn. 437, 443, 441 A.2d 857 (1982). .         The burden of showing that a general conversation amounted to custodial interrogation lies initially with the defendant. United States v. Charles, 738 F.2d 686, 695 n. 11 (5th Cir.1984); United States v. De La Fuente, 548 F.2d 528, ......
  • State v. Acquin
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    ...291, 301, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1689, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980). See State v. Falby, 187 Conn. 6, 15, 444 A.2d 213 (1982); State v. Graham, 186 Conn. 437, 443, 441 A.2d 857 (1982). The per se rule suggested by the defendant would negate the holding in Innis by forbidding any conversation initiated by......
  • State v. Hamilton, 13696
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    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 24 Abril 1990
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    ...... See, e.g., State v. Magnano, 204 Conn. 259, 271, 528 A.2d 760 (1987) (exigent circumstances); State v. Gasparro, 194 Conn. 96, 107, 480 A.2d 509 (1984), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 828, 106 S.Ct. 90, 88 L.Ed.2d 74 (1985) (inventory searches); State v. Graham, 186 Conn. 437, 443-45, 441 A.2d 857 (1982) (plain view doctrine); State v. Shaw, 186 Conn. 45, 48-49, 438 A.2d 872 (1982) [216 Conn. 158] (search incident to a lawful custodial arrest); State v. Januszewski, 182 Conn. 142, 155-57, 438 A.2d 679 (1980), cert. denied, 453 U.S. 922, 101 S.Ct. 3159, ......
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